Written on the 20 November 2014 by Nick Nichols

MOVE over Mark Zuckerberg, Gold Coaster Mitch Pierias is about to make social media a lot easier to manage.

Pierias, a Bond University graduate, has been developing an innovative social media start-up, known as Sprout, over the past year.

This week, he presented his business case virtually before more than 300 of the Gold Coast’s top company executives and investors.

Pierias is currently in Silicon Valley in the hope of making new social and business connections that will help him further develop the Sprout software for the world market.

He was among 12 of young Gold Coast entrepreneurs who showcased their ideas at Bond University as part of Global Entrepreneur Week celebrations.

Pierias describes Sprout as a new way to manage social media connections with a focus on developing a personal social network based on location and the level of interaction with those connections.

"I came up with the idea for Sprout because it was becoming an onerous task to keep on top of my social networking accounts,” he says.

“I realised that a lot of the people I had listed as friends I hadn't spoken to since school and no longer interacted with.

“My social circle had changed and I wanted a social network that would automatically change with me.

"Sprout notifies you when you and another Sprout user are regularly in the same place, so it helps form new friendships, but it also encourages people to actively maintain existing friendships by regularly sharing photos and messages.

“If you don't talk to someone on a regular basis, that contact will dissolve, so Sprout also works to keep your friends list up to date and current.

"In a nutshell, Sprout is the only social network that truly reflects who you are at each stage of your life, by helping you form and maintain relationships with the people who are closest to you."

Pierias credits the Bond Business Accelerator program with giving him the confidence to tackle Silicon Valley later this month.

The visit, scored through the Start Up Catalyst competition run by River City Labs, will include visits to the offices of Facebook and Google and a familiarisation tour of their operations.

"From that experience I hope to gain a better understanding of my target market and how I can build a business around the software I have created," says Pierias.

"Sprout is still being tested at the moment, but my mentors, Tres West and Baden U'Ren, have been incredible in terms of helping me to develop the idea further and really expand the potential reach of the program."

West says he has been inspired by the Sprout concept and its potential as a new social media enterprise.

"Social media is such a competitive field, with new ideas, apps and programs coming out every day, so you need to be really creative if you want to break into that space in your own right," he says.

"I like the way that Mitch has used his own personal experience to identify a shortcoming in the available networks, and create something that I believe has a lot of potential for growth in the future, as people continue to trend towards more 'intuitive' technology."

This week’s Demo Day was run in collaboration with the Start Up Really Fast (S.U.R.F.) accelerator, run by not-for-profit organization Silicon Lakes.

The Bond Business Accelerator is funded by Bond’s Faculty of Business.

Author: Nick Nichols





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